Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Director: David Yates
Running Time: 153 mins
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince is a British film and the sixth in the Harry Potter series. Upon learning that Voldemort’s origins lie within Hogwarts’ history, Harry and Dumbledore set out to learn more, and hopefully find the key to what happened to the Dark Lord.
This film is fantastic proof of what a good hold David Yates has over this series. Whilst the stories are still improving, it’s director Yates’ consistent and constant delivery of these young adult fantasy dramas that’s making the real difference. In the case of The Half-Blood Prince, we have an atmospheric, tense and intriguing film that, although taking a few missteps along the way, is a hugely entertaining watch throughout.
Once again, we have to talk about how well Yates pulls off this movie. Whilst he reinjected some humour and glee into the last film, The Order Of The Phoenix, The Half-Blood Prince marks a return to a slightly more significant story, but he makes it work so well. Throughout, there’s a brilliant sense of growing unease, and as we build towards the saga’s most original and unpredictable finale, there’s a whole lot more reason to be invested in what’s going on.
And although this film features a lot of the elements that I disliked about The Goblet Of Fire and The Prisoner Of Azkaban, including dimmer, moodier visuals and focus on romantic relationships between the characters, everything is balanced so well in this film. The dark visuals aren’t intrusively grey at any point, and help to reinforce the dark importance of what’s happening late on, whilst the way the film’s heavy emphasis on romance for a good third of the story isn’t so much of a problem, given that it’s portrayed in a more light-hearted way, and is written in a less vacuous and trivial way, showing us that the loves growing between certain individuals is not just important to them as teenagers, but also in the wider context of the series, which was great to see.
That’s just one part of how good the story here is too. This is the first film that makes me genuinely think a darker, more serious approach to fantasy is better than The Philosopher’s Stone‘s lighter atmosphere, and that’s because there’s so much going on that you daren’t look away.
Instead of again saying that Harry and Hogwarts are in grave danger from the impending arrival of Voldemort, The Half-Blood Prince portrays the same threat in a different light, using different characters that Harry has to bring down. It’s a simple idea, but it makes a huge difference to how fresh and different this film feels to the increasingly generic formula of the previous editions.
Also, like The Order Of The Phoenix, this isn’t a film just about Harry. In truth, the generic ‘chosen one’ character is never the most fascinating, but the fact that Harry spends so much time in this film with Dumbledore, and to an extent Ron and Hermione, gives his character a totally different dynamic, once again making this feel like a different, original story.
Overall, I really liked The Half-Blood Prince. It may have elements that I’ve found frustrating in the past, but director David Yates does an excellent job to make them work as well as possible. JK Rowling’s story arc reaches a new height of dramatic intrigue, and one that I hope will remain and intensify towards the end of the series, and the film generally feels a lot fresher than anything we’ve seen before, which is why I’m giving this a 7.7.